Clive Palmer has declared that there is no limit to how much money he will contribute to get his embattled United Australia Party (UAP) back on the voting public’s radar.
He has vowed to bombard Australians with television and print advertising, billboards and unsolicited text messages in the lead-up to the federal election.
“We’re spending money and we’ve got a lot of money to spend,” said Mr Palmer.
“There’s no limit to how much we will contribute. I’ve put no limit on it.”
You may already have seen the huge yellow billboards with Mr Palmer giving the two thumbs up to his “Make Australia great” party slogan, and millions of Australians have also been a captive audience to his text message campaign which began earlier this month.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has labelled Mr Palmer Australia’s “No.1 digital serial pest” and claims that taxpayers are footing the bill for his advertising campaign after providing $67 million to support workers sacked at his Townsville nickel refinery – a claim Mr Palmer denies.
“I say to Australians: maybe you think it’s funny or maybe you’re getting annoyed or whatever by that yellow wallpaper he’s papering up all over billboards around Australia. I just say this: the bloke owes the workers money,” said Mr Shorten.
“The taxpayers of Australia – you and everyone else – have paid his debts for him, so when he contacts you, he’s spending your money to annoy you. He should just pay the workers, do his proper obligations, and then he can have you welcome to hear what he has to say on anything else.”
While many may forgive Mr Palmer for emblazoning his image above city and suburban streets and highways, it’s the text message campaign that has certainly irked voters.
According to Mr Palmer, around 5.6 million Australians have received his unsolicited SMS messages, spruiking improved transport and infrastructure, his party slogan and, ironically, a message stating that his party would try to ban unsolicited text messages if elected.
His messages have generated 280,000 hits on the UAP website, with only 3000 complaints that he claimed were “mainly robocalls by the trade union movement”.
According to the YourLifeChoices Friday Flash Poll: Are unsolicited messages an invasion of your privacy?, we can add almost 1000 legitimate complaints to that list.
Of the 1206 respondents to our poll, 67 per cent said they had received the UAP text message. When asked if these types of messages from political parties should be allowed, 92 per cent said no. The same question was asked about charities, and 93 per cent said no.
It has been said that this type of communication should be accepted as part of modern-day electioneering. However, 72 per cent of pollsters said it shouldn’t be, while 20 per cent are willing to accept this fate, and eight per cent are undecided.
Still, 94 per cent believe the Privacy Act should be amended to ban unsolicited text messages, and almost all (99 per cent) feel that there should at least be a way to unsubscribe from them.
It would seem that Mr Palmer’s tactics are rubbing voters the wrong way but, in the meantime, the text messages won’t stop.
“We’ll be running more text messages as we get closer to the election,” said Mr Palmer.
“It’s a way of stimulating debate in our democracy, it’s a way of people being able to communicate with each other and it’s recognised by the Liberal and Labor parties, who brought in the legislation, supported it in Parliament, as a desirable feature of Australian public life.”
Do you like Clive Palmer’s message, even if it is being conveyed in an invasive way? Would you vote for the UAP based on these messages?